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Developer: Project Soul Publiser: Namco Bandai Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360 Release Date: Out Now ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the Playstation 3 version The Soul Calibur series has always been the oddity in the world of fighters. Among the pantheon of Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, and Tekken, Soul Calibur has always been the stable classic. Over the years, the series had evolved from â€œTekken with weaponsâ€ to a deep and entertaining series in its own right. While many considered Soul Calibur IV as a weak installment in the series (Yoda and Darth Vader? Really?), the next chapter in the tales of souls and swords seems to not only correct the mistakes of the past, but also build upon its successes and make something even better. Does it succeed? Yesâ€¦to some degree. The story centers on the series“ new main characters, Patroklas and Phyrra- the son and daughter of classic fighter Sophitia who is now currently deceased and are at the center of a new conflict. 17 years before the beginning of the story, Siegfried, the original wielder of the spirit sword Soul Calibur finally defeats Nightmare, the bearer of the evil spirit sword Soul Edge, returning the two blades to their dormant states. Now 17 years later, the two spirit blades have once reawaken and are now seeking to throw the world into conflict once more – each sword in search of a new possessor, with the tragic brother and sister couple destined to represent the twin swords. With this new setting also comes a new cast of characters. Jumping 17 years into the future, brings in a new generation of fighters. Some old favorites have given way to their new successors. Resident ninja Taki is now replaced with her pupil, Natsu- a blonde smart-talking type (and less "well-endowed" than her mentor, I might add). Bo staff member Kilik“s place is taken up by a young wild boy named Xiba. And even though some characters have been changed, even those returning to the series have undergone major design changes. Another member of the roster to make his first appearance is Ezio from the Assassin“s Creed series. Unlike some other guest fighters (*cough*Heihachi*cough*Vader*cough*), the assassin from Florence actually fits perfectly in the roster. His moves include quite a nice range of close and mid-range attacks. In addition to the new rosters, Soul Calibur V also comes with some new facets to the series. The gameplay has been tweaked to make the fighting more fast paced with a new quick side-step feature that allows you to better capitalize on missed attacks. They“ve also added a quick guard move for faster counters. Another new feature is the soul gauge system. As the fighters attack and get attacked, a small gauge builds up with a maximum of two levels. After the first gauge is filled, they“re able to pull off moves called â€œbrave edgesâ€ which are amplified versions of their original moves. Sometimes this cause extra damage or added effects like stagger or guard breaks. However, when the gauge is filled up to the max, the player can pull off special super attacks called â€œcritical edgesâ€ which break up the fighting with fancy cinematic moves. While the moves do cause some greater damage than normal, if you“re hit with one it doesn“t necessarily mean you“ve lost the game. Thankfully they“ve gotten rid of the fatalities from the previous game - since, to be honest, not many people ever really used them competitively. Outside the gameplay, Soul Calibur V boasts some new modes at the cost of older favorites. The story is now told through a proper story mode with cinematic cutscenes and motion comic intermissions. While playing through, you“re locked into playing certain characters during each act, the glut being the new brother and sister. And while the story and cutscenes are interesting to watch and play, the voice acting can a be bit cheesy and forced every now and then. Sadly, the story is nowhere as deep and interesting as the campaign in Soul Calibur II and III, but it still serves the purpose of getting through the narrative. In its place comes the trial of souls, where you face countless challenging fights to unlock characters, stages, music, and items for characters. While the single player experience is a bit lackluster, it more than makes up for it in the online play. The online community is wide and varied and connections are quite reliable. But the major draw of Soul Calibur V is the revamped character creation. The level of detail you can achieve this time around is mind-boggling. Hair-color, skin color, eye color (right down to the whites of the eye), the pitch and tone of the voice and the color of the weapon, its weapon trail, and you can add explosion effects if you want. In addition to that, they“ve also added patterns, designs, and color alterations that you can add. The overall freedom is a lot more refreshing and intricate; you can also now modify the thumbnail picture of your new creation with backgrounds, frames, and graphics. Overall, the latest chapter in the tale of souls and swords has redeemed itself from the last game, but it still lacks some gameplay polish that made its other predecessors so great. Pros: + Looks phenomenal + Online play is fun and reliable + Gameplay can be casual or deep, depending on your style +The new roster is a nice change of pace Cons: - Story mode is good, could be better - Single player experiences is a bit lacking Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Soul Calibur V is a definite step in the right direction for the series, it just needs an extra push here and there to bring it back to its original glory.